Beyond the OSHA ETS and CMS Rule: What’s Up With Biden’s Executive Orders?

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Testing Standard (ETS) met its demise at the Supreme Court of the United States on January 13, 2022. That same day, the Court allowed a vaccine rule promulgated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to enforce its healthcare interim final rule. But what’s the status of Executive Orders (EO) 14042 and 14043, which requires certain federal contractors and all executive-agency federal employees to comply with workplace safety rules, including vaccinations? Here’s an update.

CMS Vaccine Mandate Update: Last, but Not Least, Texas Joins the Rest of the Country

On January 13, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States issued an opinion staying preliminary injunctions issued in cases filed in Missouri and Louisiana challenging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) COVID-19 vaccination mandate for healthcare providers. The ruling stayed preliminary injunctions applicable to twenty-four states. Twenty-five states were already subject to enforcement under the CMS rule. This left Texas standing alone and in limbo.

Can Discharging Remote Workers Trigger the WARN Act at a ‘Single Site of Employment’?

To say that COVID-19 has presented numerous challenges to employers would certainly be an understatement. One of the changes and challenges that has entered the workforce is the proliferation of work-from-home arrangements. With remote workers, employers have had to alter the ways they recruit, pay, manage, and even discharge employees.

New York Extends Mask-or-Vaccine Requirement

On December 13, 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochul instituted a mandate requiring that masks be worn in indoor public spaces, unless a covered business has implemented a mandatory vaccination requirement. The mandate was set to be reevaluated on January 15, 2022. However, as part of her “Winter Surge Plan 2.0,” and before the mandate’s original expiration date, Governor Hochul extended the mask-or-vaccine requirement for an additional two weeks, until at least February 1, 2022. As part of the announcement, the governor indicated that the state would reassess masking requirements in February 2022.

Twin Cities Issue Vaccine Mandates for Restaurants, Bars, and Entertainment Venues

On January 12, 2022, just one week after issuing mask mandates, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter issued executive orders mandating that places of public accommodation serving food and drinks indoors require persons to furnish proof of vaccination or negative PCR or antigen tests. Then, on January 13, 2022, and January 14, 2022, respectively, Mayor Carter and Mayor Frey each issued additional emergency regulations amending their January 12, 2022, orders.

Oregon OSHA Announces Stance on Federal Vaccine-or-Test Standard

On January 13, 2022, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA) announced that because the Supreme Court of the United States has stayed the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), it “will not move forward with adopting the same or similar standard in Oregon.”

 

Minnesota OSHA Pumps the Brakes on Federal OSHA’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard

Minnesota’s Occupational Safety Administration (MNOSHA) adopted the federal Occupational Safety Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) on January 3, 2022, and began enforcing the rules on January 10, 2022. Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United stayed the enforcement of the ETS and remanded the case to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will now consider the merits of the case.

Colorado Cracks Down on Restrictive Covenant Agreements, Authorizing Potential Criminal Penalties

Colorado has enlisted the help of the criminal justice system to reinforce its strong public policy against restrictive covenants. Beginning on March 1, 2022, violations of Colorado’s restrictive covenants statute, C.R.S. § 8-2-113, may subject employers to criminal liability.

SCOTUS Narrowly Allows CMS Vaccine Mandate to Survive; Preemption Battles to Ensue

On January 13, 2022, in a 5-4 split decision, the Court issued an opinion staying the injunctions against the healthcare interim final rule, which allows the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to now enforce its vaccine mandate nationwide (with the key compliance dates now being January 27, 2022, and February 28, 2022).

Illinois Adopts New Public Employer Rules on Federal OSHA’s COVID-19 ETS

On January 7, 2022, the Illinois Department of Labor (IDOL) filed peremptory rules adopting the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS). IDOL will require all state and local public employers in Illinois to comply with ETS sections (d)-(l).

New Orleans Revives Mask Mandate, Effective January 12, 2022

New Orleans has revived its mask mandate for indoor spaces, effective January 12, 2022. Citing increased COVID-19 infection and hospitalization rates, Mayor Latoya Cantrell has ordered that all individuals over the age of two who do not have breathing complications must wear masks “when in indoor spaces outside the household, unless actively eating or drinking.”

Oregon OSHA Announces Schedule for Implementing COVID-19 Vaccine or Test Standard

Oregon operates a state plan that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has approved that applies to both public and private employers. Accordingly, Oregon employers are subject to the state OSHA’s standards rather than the federal OSHA standards. Oregon OSHA may adopt an emergency temporary standard (ETS) related to COVID-19 that differs from the federal ETS, but Oregon OSHA’s ETS must be “as effective as” the federal ETS.

Workplace Investigations in 2022: Ringing in the New Year on the Right Foot

According to a poll conducted during an Ogletree Deakins webinar in 2021, 70 percent of approximately 1,200 attendees had experienced an increase in internal workplace complaints. In addition, a recently published outlook for the legal industry projected a continued increase in the investigations practice area for 2022. Given the current climate, employers should expect an uptick in internal complaints, as well as corresponding workplace investigations and organizational assessments.

EEOC Tentatively Sets Significantly Shortened 2021 EEO-1 Filing Season

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently posted information on the EEO-1 landing page stating that the 2021 EEO-1 filing platform is tentatively scheduled to open on April 12, 2022, with the filing deadline tentatively set for May 17, 2022. This approximately four-week filing period is significantly shorter than the length of time provided for recent EEO-1 filing periods.

Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument on OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard and CMS Vaccine Rule

On Friday, January 7, 2022, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments on challenges to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) COVID-19 Vaccination and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) COVID-19 vaccination mandate for certain healthcare providers.

New York State Paid Sick Leave: Final Regulations Are Here

On December 22, 2021, the New York State Department of Labor (NYSDOL) published highly anticipated final regulations in the New York State Register regarding New York State Paid Sick Leave (PSL), which went into effect on September 30, 2020. These final regulations address comments received from the public following the issuance of proposed regulations published on December 9, 2020. The final regulations provide some additional clarification regarding the PSL and its requirements.